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  #1  
Old 08-29-2011, 04:28 PM
CottonSwab CottonSwab is offline
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What is Emtec/BASF CE (Chrome Extra)?

I have a data sheet on this tape supposedly the original BASF Chrome however the company on the datasheet is EMTEC in Valencia CA. The tape part number is BASF CP100EX. Is this BASF Chrome or some other company who repackaged it in later years? I can buy quite a bit for reasonable and have heard it. I like the tape but am seeing it on eBay now with all kinds of different names like Emtec EX BASF etc.
Anyone know much about it? Is it BASF chrome?
Thanks-
Ron
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  #2  
Old 08-29-2011, 04:53 PM
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Probably a cobalt doped tape (not pure chrome). Also Emtec took over from BASF some years back and produced the same BASF tape under the name of Emtec. Then they went belly up too. Its good tape.
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2011, 04:59 PM
CottonSwab CottonSwab is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braxus View Post
Probably a cobalt doped tape (not pure chrome). Also Emtec took over from BASF some years back and produced the same BASF tape under the name of Emtec. Then they went belly up too. Its good tape.
The material is only listed as "polyester" no chromium or cobalt formula type. Someone wrote on the sheet "PureChrome". It does sound good I do agree.
Thanks but maybe not chrome. Oh well...
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  #4  
Old 08-29-2011, 07:14 PM
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The tape is Chrome Plus (as a bulk pancake) or Chrome Extra, the retail name for the same product. It is 85% BASF chromium dioxide and 15% ferric-cobalt mixed in the emulsion.

BASF sold off the magnetics division in October 1996 when they were caught price fixing for a third time. They hoped that by dumping the division they might escape prosecution and multi-million dollar fines. Kohap bought the division, renamed "Emtec," but had no idea what they were doing. The Valencia, California, office was the new U.S. headquarters that, within six months, had so mismanaged the business that it was losing money after 11 straight years of profits. The data sheet is one example of the confusion that destroyed the business.
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:08 AM
CottonSwab CottonSwab is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilhelm View Post
The tape is Chrome Plus (as a bulk pancake) or Chrome Extra, the retail name for the same product. It is 85% BASF chromium dioxide and 15% ferric-cobalt mixed in the emulsion.
Wilhelm,
Thanks for your breakdown on the formula. I guess it's not "Pure Chrome" but the Ferric Cobalt content at 15% probably isn't hurting it much as the samples I have sound beautiful. I did like the way this tape sent the soundstage way out past the speakers in my bedroom and with clarity. It is also VERY quiet. I went ahead and ordered fifty for 48 bucks that should last me for awhile.
I do like the Pure Chrome BASF but at the prices online I am not sure I can afford it these days. Most middle of the road type II sounds pretty good but can't come close to the sound of Chrome. IMHO.
Thanks for sharing some history there with us.
Ron
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  #6  
Old 08-30-2011, 09:44 AM
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On the whole, the Chrome Plus was superior to pure chrome in terms of MOL and lower distortion without sacrificing any bias noise advantages of pure chrome. It was an excellent single-coat tape, and only the TPII ferric-cobalt could compete with it in BASF's line-up for all around performance. The double-coated ChromeSupers and Chrome Maxima had a dip in the mid-range sensitivity that always bothered me because Dolby NR would increase the dip a bit more. On the other hand, the Super and the Maxima were about the only cassette tapes that could get by without noise reduction--extremely low bias and modulation noise and very high MOL and SOL.
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  #7  
Old 08-30-2011, 10:06 AM
CottonSwab CottonSwab is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilhelm View Post
On the whole, the Chrome Plus was superior to pure chrome in terms of MOL and lower distortion without sacrificing any bias noise advantages of pure chrome. It was an excellent single-coat tape, and only the TPII ferric-cobalt could compete with it in BASF's line-up for all around performance. The double-coated ChromeSupers and Chrome Maxima had a dip in the mid-range sensitivity that always bothered me because Dolby NR would increase the dip a bit more. On the other hand, the Super and the Maxima were about the only cassette tapes that could get by without noise reduction--extremely low bias and modulation noise and very high MOL and SOL.
All good news to me Wilhelm. The datasheet shows MOL 315 as +4db and s/n as 60db while SOL 10K is listed at -4db and SOL s/n at 10khz 52db. Not all that bad but the proof is in the recording. On my Denon DR-M44HX I can barely hear the hiss but I have to really work to hear it so its not there for me really. The sound reaches far on this tape.
They must have known something with the ferric-cobalt doping. It may have been used to flatten the response or extend it one way or the other. Only my guess.
Ron

Last edited by CottonSwab; 08-30-2011 at 10:57 AM.
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:32 AM
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alxwz alxwz is offline
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I'm a little late to this thread, but I have a question for Wilhelm:

When exactly was "Chrome Plus" introduced, and since when was "Chrome Extra" (the tape) = "Chrome Plus"?

I'm a little confused about this, because according to my knowledge (and vintagecassettes.com) BASF switched from "Chromdioxid II" (the cassette) to "Chromdioxid extra II" in 1985, and shortened the name of all their chrome cassettes from "Chromdioxid" to "Chrome" in 1988 (in Germany, I might add).
But "Chrome Plus" (the duplicator tape) seems to have been introduced not until 1992 (Billboard ad from 1992).

And did the "Chrome Extra" or "CE" cassette always contain "Chrome Plus" tape until the end?

Alex

Last edited by alxwz; 01-02-2012 at 10:41 AM.
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  #9  
Old 01-09-2012, 07:15 PM
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alxwz alxwz is offline
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In the meantime, Wilhelm sent me this reply, which I may quote here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilhelm
BASF duplicator tape remained a particular type with a defined consistency of sensitivity at 315 Hz of +/- 0.5 dB and at 10 kHz of +/- 1.0 dB. When we developed a new tape for the market, we coated batches and submitted samples to all potential customers. Once it was accepted, we switched to the new formulation and stayed within the same sensitivity limits for the life of the product. The reason was simple: a large duplicator such as WEA Manufacturing could have as many 140 slaves, and having to tune them for different batches was time consuming and expensive. Our customers tested our consistency as closely as we did, and we promised them batch-to-batch consistency. Wenn Chrome Plus was introduced with its chrome/cobalt formulation, that was an entirely new product--so once it was introduced, the name and tape stayed the same.

For consumer cassettes, however, the names could change simply by changing a label, a design, or a cassette housing. Chrom Maxima was the same as Chrom Super, for example, except that the batches with the highest MOL values went to CR-M. If there were no difference in production--and there typically was little difference--CR-S was exactly the same as CR-M except for the label or the shell. It is difficult to determine when consumer production changed names because that involved German and U.S. production, and I was involved with U.S. retail only from the mid-1970's until the mid-1980s when I moved to the professional business. I do know that when we started the professional business, I was asked to sell off B-grade video that we did not want to load into consumer cassettes. That effort expanded into selling A-grade, and then, within 12 months, specifying the video tape I wanted with the remainder going to retail cassettes. The same was true for audio--we set extremely high standards for audio and video tape, and retail took a portion of our production for their own use, and got better tape because of tighter specifications.
I sent him a few more nagging questions.

Regards,
Alex
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  #10  
Old 01-11-2012, 04:17 PM
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alxwz alxwz is offline
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In response to my additional questions, I received another elaborate answer from Wilhelm full of interesting facts, concerning BASF tapes in general and also resolving some mysteries about the BASF Chrome Plus/Extra tape:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilhelm
1) In the U.S. market, BASF had three categories in the mid-1970s: Performance (inexpensive ferric oxide), Studio (a thicker coating of the ferric and a single-layer chrome); and Professional (a better ferric oxide; double-layer chrome super; and ferric-chrome). All of these tapes were loaded into a cheap, poor quality shell but had different labels and J-cards. I don't remember the line-up in Europe, but the shells were certainly superior. BASF Bedford coated both Performance and Studio I tape, but all the other tapes were sourced from Willstaett and loaded at Bedford.

In a risky but ultimately successful push for better quality, BASF Bedford started building a better, wide-window shell in 1980 and loaded the same tapes into it. Dr. Ohlinger in Ludwigshaven had developed superior chrome particles by that time, and I suggested that we drop the chrome super for the better single-layer chrome now being produced. This move eliminated problems with the "mid-range" dip in sensitivity for the double-coated tape as well as mechanical problems associated with its thinness and highly polished surface. It became "PRO-II," but all the other tapes stayed the same--except Studio II, which actually had the same tape in it as PRO-II.

This new chrome was, as you guessed, in response to the Japanese ferric-cobalts with their higher MOL values and greater levels of low frequency sensitivity. BASF also supplied a new reference tape, S 4592A, as the IEC Type II reference, which replaced the DIN reference C 401 R. Single-layer chrome production centered around this new reference tape, and over time the MOL increased substantially with little increase in sensitivity in order to remain compatible. In 1992 Audio magazine's tests in the U.S. rated BASF PRO-II Chrome as the top Type II tape, against TDK SA, SA-X, Maxell UDXL-II, and UDXL-IIS, a fact that boosted sales (and saved my job because BASF AG marketing was insisting that chrome super should be our top tape.)

At this time we also approached A&M Records about using bulk PRO-II chrome for duplication, and they agreed to experiment. Mobile Fidelity approached us also, and I worked with them to set up production in real time. Dr. Ohlinger worked on refining production and coating in order to reduce the mid-range dip in double-coated tapes and increase their performance in order to be obviously superior to the single-coated chrome tape. The single-coat was so good, though, that BASF Europe renamed it "Chrome Extra" around that time. (The pictures on various sites show the BASF logo as white text on a black background. BASF logo police insisted on our changing to the decorative black text on a white background, and this change happened in the late 1980s, if I remember correctly.) The single-layer chrome was an immediate hit in the professional market, and by 1986 Bedford was also coating audio and video chrome tapes in addition to a revised ferric formulation. We never offered the double-layer chrome in pancake form to duplicators because it was difficult to work with mechanically.

In October 1987 the reference tape for Type II changed again to U 564 W, which was a ferric-cobalt we produced as a reference only. It had "SA-like" MOL and sensitivity, but by now our chrome production was getting close to those values anyway. No BASF ferric-cobalt cassette appeared in North America, but an aggressive product manager produced advertising announcing a new ferric-cobalt pancake for duplication. Again I nearly lost my job preventing that development--it would have opened doors for any Japanese type II tape manufacturer to get into the duplication business and would have been suicide for us. (I won the battle when the same product manager decided to "save" $45,000 annually by eliminating a quality test procedure for video tape. Our application department and I refused to sign the plan, but the toadies in QA and the product manager did. It ended up just as we predicted--video dropouts increased so much that we lost all sales of Bedford-based High Grade production and had to import HG tape. Saving $45,000 cost us $3.2 million in revenue--and it cost the product manager his job.)

2) In 1991 we bought Agfa's tape business, and we shut down Bedford production. By now the retail cassette line up was the Extra Series: Ferro Extra, the ferric duplicator tape we were coating; Chrome Extra, the high performance single-layer chrome tape also used for duplication that used the CK 40-14 chrome pigment; and Ferro or Chrome Super and Maxima that all used high-performance oxides. CR-S and CR-M were identical; both used CK 37-11 for the base chrome coating and CK 48-21 for the surface coating. The differed in shell design, livery, and in performance only if any double-layer production did not meet the tough standards set for CR-M. By now we had competition from Aurex and from SKC in the chrome duplication business because they were making good chrome tapes with oxides from DuPont and selling them for a lot less than we were. We wanted to offer something far superior, so we developed the Chrome Plus tape with about 15% ferric-cobalt added to the dispersion for a large increase in low frequency MOL and lower harmonic distortion with no sacrifice in bias or modulation noise. We sampled customers in June of 1992, made some preliminary announcements in July, and ran our first advertisements in the professional trade magazines in August of 1992. I assume that BASF Europe loaded some of that tape into retail shells, but I cannot say which ones because all of my attention was devoted to the professional business. I do know that the amount of chrome tape going into duplication sales was nearly the same as that going into retail cassettes around the world, so production must have been fully devoted to a single formulation for one-layer chrome tapes from Muenchen and Willstaett. Chrome Plus sales were in full swing by September, 1992. In fact, by the early 1990s cassette decks all over the world were again putting "Chrome" (or "metal/chrome") position on their bias/EQ settings, reversing the change from the 1980's when "chrome" was beginning to be a bad name. My guess is that it was from the success BASF had with the artists and music labels promoting chrome and its attributes.

3) BASF AG had been developing high temperature plastics for some time, and in late 1992 or early 1993 got the tape group to work on a cassette shell that could withstand 85 degrees C. for 24 hours with no change in any measurable dimension. This shell, however, would be useless if a chrome tape were loaded into it because that temperature begins to approach chrome's Curie point where it loses its coercivity begins to suffer from signal loss and severe print-through. We experimented with Maxell's best ferric-cobalt and then bought ferric-cobalt at a price three times more expensive than our most expensive chrome pigment. (It was a one-time purchase. After that, BASF AG decided to make its own ultra-high performance ferric cobalt.) This became the TP II tape that went into the temperature resistant shell designed for automotive applications. The "Reference Super" is the same tape, but it was designed and styled for the professional market where price would be less of an issue than the retail or even audiophile market. The TP II joined our professional line-up in North America because it was more available. The retail group did nothing with that cassette because their main interest was only in the cheapest video cassette available, and technical matters confused them.

BASF was then offering three types of Type II tape: single-layer chrome in a number of different packages, double-layer chrome in the Super and Maxima labels, and ferric-cobalt TP II cassettes. Packaging and housings varied in order to address particular markets. The audiophile market got the fanciest, most expensive cassettes. The middle market got certain cassettes in stylish designs. And the grocery market got the same tapes in different housings with less expensive packaging at the lowest prices.

Toward the end of the BASF era things certainly were "drunter und drueber." The 353 series from Taiyo Yuden showed up. I only know about that because a consumer product manager brought me a display unit of the tapes asking what they were. North America never sold them. There were limited editions, Coca-Cola and Disney editions; but to my knowledge, our retail group had no idea what to do with them. Then the entire BASF world blew up for us when Emtec took over on January 1, 1997. Those managers who we were hoping would have been fired in previous years for incompetence turned out to be the new bosses. Some of the best people were let go or just quit in exasperation. Emtec flopped around like a dying fish for far longer than any of us expected, but the end was inevitable.
Great info, thanks a lot!

Regards,
Alex

P.S.: "Drunter und drueber" is a German phrase meaning "chaotic".

Last edited by alxwz; 01-11-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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  #11  
Old 01-12-2012, 03:52 AM
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nice read on cassette history.

i wonder if a chrome super of the last batches can stand up to the CS tapes Wilhelm mentioned.
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  #12  
Old 01-12-2012, 08:20 AM
D.S. UK D.S. UK is offline
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Indeed, some fascinating reading on this thread - thank you for posting Wilhelm's recollections!

Regards,

Damon.
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